14 September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Personal Musings

According to the pastor of the Union Street Brick Church, He didn’t. We did. A nugget (emphasis added; also feel free to substitute “fate” or ‘karma” or some other term if the word “God” gives you discomfort):

One minute we’re accusing the government of being stupid and incompetent, the next we’re generating stories of super-controlling plans to bring about slavery and the end of democracy. Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.

If God doesn’t hold us responsible for things we do when we’re crazy, then what about when a whole society, or societies, goes crazy together? To ask the question Firesign Theatre asked 43 years ago, “Are we all bozos on this bus?”

I say we are. I think we have exceeded our capacity to act rationally in our own best interests (the premise of capitalism), or to act with love in the interests of others (the premise of Christianity). We are failing to take responsibility for our actions as humans, and we are of a mind to blame God for all of it. To destroy ourselves and the world God gave us, and to blame God (for what? for giving us life and what was a paradise in the first place?) is the height of smug paranoia, and it can only lead to further destruction.

Sometimes, random bad stuff just happens. Too often, persons do bad stuff because they think that harming others will benefit them.

There is such a thing as evil, and it is man-made.

Afterthought:

The persons who do bad stuff concoct elaborate theories to convince others and themselves that they are doing good stuff. Such theories are commonly referred to as “the Laffer Curve,” “Libertarianism,” “Reaganomics,” and “Neoconservatism,” to mention but a few examples.

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11 September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Personal Musings

Having an Amazon account has from time to time been useful, but I must find a way to send all email from “LocalDeals@amazon.com” to /dev/null. Amazon has found a way to make the Nigerian email scam look like a model of internet integrity in comparison.

In other news, if I receive another email from a Democratic cause marked “Urgent” or with a subject line starting with “Re” when there is no “Re” or wanting a $3.00 contribution, I shall scream. I won’t stop supporting Democrats, because I live in the real world, but I shall most certainly scream.

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25 August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Personal Musings

American Exceptionalism, n.: The propensity of the United States of America and its citizens to except themselves from accountability for their actions. See Viet Nam, Nicaragua, Granada, slavery, Jim Crow, asbestos, tar sands, fly ash, Halliburton, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, NSA, CIA, Ferguson, Birmingham, British Petroleum, Monsanto, DDT, honey bees . . . . .

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13 August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Personal Musings

Am I the only person who finds Christian Mingle’s (no link–look it up yourself) ad campaign vaguely blasphemous?

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10 August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Personal Musings

We watched Sharknado yesterday. It was riveting in a way, keeping one wondering what the next bit of fantastickal stupid might be. I cannot say that “it was so bad it was good,” but it was so bad it was amusing.

Driftglass is fond of saying (I’m paraphrasing here) that what distinguishes science fiction from other genres is the science.

By that standard, Sharknado is not science fiction; it’s fictional science.

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05 July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Personal Musings

Q. What do you get when you cross a Prius and a Scion?

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26 June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Personal Musings

At DL, I noticed that the bar telly vision was tuned to ESPN #something-or-other, where a big deal was being made of the NBA draft (mercifully, the sound was turned off), which, as my mother would have said, is the biggest nothing, indeed a biggest nothing of the highest order. It means nothing until the first tip-off of the next NBA season, which I intend to ignore as I have ignored all the preceding NBA seasons since Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld retired.

We have a media that makes somethings out of nothings, while real somethings (for example) go ignored.

We are awash in stupid.

Furrfu.

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25 June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Personal Musings

A bicycle ride on trash day in the heat of the summer can be an olfactory adventure.

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21 June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Personal Musings

We are sharing a flat with Sheddinger’s cat.

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19 June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Personal Musings

The phrase “Twitter conversation” is an oxymoron.

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12 June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Personal Musings

The movie, A Christmas Story, has become an American Christmas standard, played over and over on cable television during the Christmas season.

How many persons know that it is a conflation of several stories by Jean Shepherd, humorist, author, and raconteur, who is the faceless narrator of the movie?

I first encountered his stories in Playboy (Yes, Playboy is at the link and, yes, I still read the articles–they beat the hell out of Time and what’s left of Newsweek; if you must know, I start with jokes, then go to the cartoons), which I started reading as soon as I turned 15, got my drivers license (the times were different then), and could purchase the magazine at the White Brothers pharmacy in Accomack County. Then I learned that “Shep” had a radio show on WOR in New York City, when WOR was a legitimate radio station, long before it became a wingnut talker.

When the weather conditions were correct and the family dinner concluded before 6 p. m., I used to catch his broadcasts on the skip (look it up). They were a joy to listen to. You could never anticipate where he might go.

You can listen to many of his shows here. (Lorenzo deserves our thanks for all he has done to make Old Time Radio accessible. I’ve traded emails with him. He is Good People.)

Shep deserves remembrance; he was an American Original.

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03 June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Personal Musings

Why is it that, when Facebook et al. spy on you and sell your data to third parties to make money, it’s okay, but when the NSA spies on you and keeps your data secret, it’s a scandal?

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01 June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Personal Musings

I think I’ve figured out why hipsters prefer the Yassar Arafat look those silly beards that look like three days’ stubble.

They think it’s cool to look as if they’ve stayed up in their Mom’s basement all weekend playing World of Warcraft and flirting with Siri while forgetting to shave.

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28 May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Personal Musings

I don’t miss stepping on airplanes two or three times a month any more.

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25 May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Personal Musings

S. S. United States

A massive piece of the historic SS United States is for sale, as the conservancy trying to save the ship is running out of money and time.

The SS United States Conservancy is looking to sell a massive propeller sitting on its deck in Philadelphia.

She set records in her prime.

Were she an ugly old building distinguished for nothing more than being old and ugly, preservationists would be clambering to preserve her.

You can see some more pictures of her here.

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25 May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Personal Musings

It’s Memorial Day weekend.

Remember that young folks die because old men lie.

As you honor the young folks, so too should you contemn and disdain the old men, the ones who lied.

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22 May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Personal Musings

On my way to DL tonight, I was caught in a traffic jam. TV news crews were on hand, with cute ladies and trim men talking into microphones in front of disheveled camera men (and they were all men).

It was the backwash of this.

Now I know why those TV news crews were there. It was not your routine “driver runs into crepe myrtle tree in the median strip” accident.

Afterthought:

I am not a fan of crepe myrtle trees.

When I was in college, one of my summer jobs was cutting grass along the highways for the Department of Highways. When you are cutting grass with a sickle bar mounted on a tractor, crepe myrtles, though they may be pretty, can be quite annoying.

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I remember having woman store clerks in Yankeeland look at me funny when I said, “Yes, ma’am.” They thought I was commenting on their age, when I was just being polite (Southerners will understand).

At the same time, I remember how jarring it was the first time some whippersnapper referred to me as “Sir.”

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09 May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Personal Musings

This week, many members of the commentariat, including some whose overall track record is pretty good, have been outraged that Condileeza Rice’s First Amendment right to free speech has been violated and that she has been somehow censored.

Who violated it? She did, by withdrawing from a gig at the Rutgers University graduation ceremonies because the students did not want her there.

How was she censored, as no one told her what she could or could not say? She lost a speaking gig.

Students were unhappy that they were going to be addressed by one of the architects, albeit a minor one, of the Great and Glorious Patriotic War for a Lie in Iraq. Indeed a good case can be made that, given her role in authorizing the torture dungeons of President George the Worst (see the news story linked above), she should be in the dock at the Hague for war crimes.

Note that her actions were not private actions. This cannot be compared to, say, refusing to hire someone because you don’t like her Facebook page. These were the actions of someone who swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America, and then chose not to do so.

Yet, because she is a member of the club–she wears nice suits, looks good in meetings, writes elegant emails, knows the right people–she continues to be treated as if she were somehow an exemplar of something.

Also, this was not just an “appearance” on campus that one could attend or not. It was graduation, which graduates want to attend if they can; if not a captive audience, they would have been the next thing to it, forced to subject themselves to the empty platitudes certain to pass her lips if they wished to receive their diplomas in person.

Frankly, were I a student at Rutgers, I would have been right out there demonstrating against her presence on campus, just as, when I was a student, I demonstrated against the presence of Richard Nixon on my campus.

In the column linked above, Dick Polman claims that there is some similarity between Rice and Eric Holder, because both are black, both have accomplished much from humble beginnings, and Holder recently canceled a graduation speech due to threats of right-wing violence. Using the same standard, Santa Claus and Medusa are alike because both are mythological creatures.

Anyhoo, back to my point.

Rice can say anything she wants to anyone she wants. Her freedom of speech has not been violated in any way. There is no censorship here.

The First Amendment guarantees that the national government cannot restrict someone’s speech. It does not guarantee a platform or an audience, nor does it insulate persons from consequences for what they have said and done.

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06 May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Personal Musings

Penny ScaleOnce there was a radio detective show called “The Fat Man” that opened with the detective’s weighing himself on one of the penny scales that were found in drug stores back in the olden days, when I was a young ‘un.

There he goes into that drug store.

He’s stepping on that scale (sound of coin dropping).

(tinny voice) “Weight: 239 pounds. Fortune: Danger!”

Who is it? The Fat Man!

Back then, 239 pounds was considered “fat.”

Today, as near as I can tell as I walk the mild streets of Virginia Beach, 239 pounds is the new svelte.

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